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Blood. 2009 Apr 2;113(14):3147-53. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-10-163493. Epub 2009 Jan 14.

How I treat and monitor viral hepatitis B infection in patients receiving intensive immunosuppressive therapies or undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Centre for Cancer Research, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation is a serious but preventable complication of immunosuppression. Full HBV serologic profile must be obtained from all patients receiving intensive immunosuppressive therapy. In general, preemptive anti-HBV therapy is more effective than giving treatment after development of reactivation. Prompt lamivudine therapy should be given to at-risk patients who are hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive. It is recommended that lamivudine be continued until at least 6 months after the cessation of immunosuppression. Some patients requiring a longer duration of lamivudine therapy are at risk of developing drug resistance. The newer anti-HBV agents are effective in overcoming lamivudine resistance. Early use of these agents may be considered. HBV reactivation was observed in HBsAg-negative patients with occult HBV infection (HBV DNA-positive) who are on heavy immunosuppression. The optimal management of this group of patients is unclear. For patients receiving allogeneic HSC transplants, the HBV status of the donors requires special attention. To minimize the risk of transmission of infection to recipients, HBsAg-positive donors should receive adequate anti-HBV therapy before HSC donation. As the result of adoptive immune transfer, clearance of HBsAg is observed in HBsAg-positive patients receiving HSC transplants from donors who are positive for hepatitis B surface and core antibodies.

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